At SparkFun we continually like to innovate, update, and improve even when it comes to our very own development boards. We have multiple versions of the SparkFun RedBoard in our catalog but none of them in an R3 form factor with a Qwiic connector on it to make I2C easy... until now! The SparkFun RedBoard Qwiic is an Arduino-compatible development board that uses a few of the features that we have loved about Arduinos of the past while also incorporating a few key improvements over the original RedBoard. The best part about the RedBoard Qwiic is that (as the name implies) it utilizes our handy Qwiic Connect System which means no soldering or shields are required to connect it to the rest of your system!
Of course, we didn't just add a Qwiic Connector to the board, lets go over all the new additions that make the SparkFun RedBoard Qwiic unique! With the improved AP2112 voltage regulator, this Reboard gains a more robust 3.3V regulator that provides it more power to daisy chain multiple Qwiic boards and sensors, sourcing up to 600mA of current. To help support the micro USB connector (updated from a Mini USB), the CH340C Serial-USB converter IC allows the RedBoard Qwiic should reduce the need for you to manually install drivers allowing for newer operating systems to automatically recognize and install the drivers for the board. Lastly, we have made sure to add a few solder jumpers to the board. The jumpers for the A4 and A5 pins are tied directly to the I2C bus and can be used to disconnect the logic level converters from the pins while the voltage level jumpers can switch the RedBoard Qwiic from a 3.3V device to a 5V device (no logic level converter needed).
The SparkFun RedBoard Qwiic can be programmed over a USB Micro-B cable using the Arduino IDE: Just plug in the board, select "Arduino UNO" from the board menu and you're ready to upload code. RedBoard Qwiic has all of the hardware peripherals you know and love: 20 Digital I/O pins with 6 PWM pins, UART, SPI and external interrupts. We've also broken out the SDA, SCL and IOREF pins that showed up on the UNO R3, so the RedBoard Qwiic will be compatible with future shields (if you choose to use them). You can power the SparkFun RedBoard Qwiic over USB or through the barrel jack. The on-board power regulator can handle anything from 7 to 15VDC. Check out the related items below for a compatible wall-wart power supply.
The SparkFun Qwiic Connect System is an ecosystem of I2C sensors, actuators, shields and cables that make prototyping faster and less prone to error. All Qwiic-enabled boards use a common 1mm pitch, 4-pin JST connector. This reduces the amount of required PCB space, and polarized connections mean you can’t hook it up wrong.
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Rookie - You will need a better fundamental understand of what code is, and how it works. You will be using beginner-level software and development tools like Arduino. You will be dealing directly with code, but numerous examples and libraries are available. Sensors or shields will communicate with serial or TTL.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Based on 13 ratings:
1 of 1 found this helpful:
Massive problems out of the box. Not immediately recognized by Windows, and had to peruse the little traveled inter-spaces just to find out the solution was to download a driver called CH31SER.zip. That took most of my day to find because tech support is not available on the weekend... which is when I received my product (which took 20 days to get to me... not exaggerating). So, minus one star for not being ready to use out of the box, and having a very obscure fix.
Works just like an Arduino once you get it working, so big plus! Here's a star for that.
Qwiic seems to function properly, if you can get the libraries to work the first time. Had some trouble with that, but good thing I'm persistent. Minus a star for inconsistent library function.
I really like the lack of through-pins on the back side. Makes it easy to mount and prototype. It seems faster than the normal Arduino, too, but that could just be my imagination. Tried several standard sketches and some very Arduino specific ones, and it works like a champ. Two stars for compatibility and design!
Overall, I still recommend, but beware if you get one like mine. The driver issues I had were solved, once I found a solution, however it was not a widely recognized solution. Also, the driver problem was due to a serial chip not manufactured in the US, and therefore not part of the normal driver update. This should have been either pre-loaded, or part of the tutorial. Sad face.
I am still happy with the product, but unhappy with my lost day trying to find a solution. Also, not completely happy about the Qwiic problems I have had. Especially, because I bought it for Qwiic connections.
If you are interested in a superior Arduino-type product, then this is definitely what you are looking for, but be aware of potential problems out of the box. If you have said problems, then then be ready to burn some midnight oil fixing them.
Would still buy it again, even knowing all of this.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
works as expected for an Arduino board, and the QWIIC connection makes setting up an I2C bus easy - no more messing with wires and pullups.
None of the problems mentioned by Member #299089, mine worked great out of the box.
3 of 3 found this helpful:
What can I say about a near perfect arduino board. The support is great, I like the 3.3V regulator which give plenty power for attached devices. If you ask me to be picky: Maybe put a jumper to disconnect the D13 LED?
I had to assemble a system to take physical input and output a result on a very tight deadline. I decided to measure the input by weight, using this and the QWIIC Scale board. Between the two of these and the libraries provided for using them, I had a working prototype in only a few hours of work. These two products were perfectly matched to my application.
I work on linux and have the ch340 driver. Uploads typically fail unless I hold the board in reset manually and release it at random intervals while it retryies 10 times. When I magically hit an unknown window the upload works. I learned this trick via a google search so it happens to others as well. Seems solvable.
A couple of things could be causing your issue. Can you try the board in Windows with the driver we link to in the hookup guide to see if everything is working there?
If things work in Windows, chances are the driver you're using in linux may have an issue with how it handles the DTR line. (Apple computers sometimes have a similar issue with FTDI drivers)
If you're still having trouble in Windows, there's probably a issue with the USB to serial chip. If that's the case, fill out the form on this page and we will work with you on a resolution.
Having discovered the Redboard Qwiic uses the CH340 USB interface I set about installing the CH340 Device Driver on a Dell XPS8930 (as I had done earlier for the FTDI Device Drivers) No Luck! Following the SFE Tutorial and various posts online and YouTube, I was stumped.
After much time invested, I took a closer look at the RedBoard Qwiic hardware.
Not all of the USB-A to USB Micro B cables work, the three I had tried earlier are all "Bad" (even though they work on other USB hardware)
The CH340 seems very fussy about cable length (compared with the FTDI version) Even moving a "good cable" from one example of RedBoard Qwiic to a second one causes the second one to fail to connect. The most reliable cable is not the shortest that I have (1m) but the longest on hand (7m)
On the RedBoard schematic I don't see any build-out resistors between the USB connector and the CH430 IC, but there are 27R resistors and 47p capacitors on the earlier RedBoard version (using FTDI IC)
SFE Engineering was this intentional?
I love this board for having everything a generic beginner project may need, specially the QWIIC functionality.
But the I/O jumper is not easy to solder for newbies and I already burned the pads trying to do so. Maybe an actual jumper would be worth the cost? I have ordered 2 more so I can try to do it correctly this time!
I bought two of them. One of them went belly up, and I didn't to anything untoward to it either. Even the Atmel ICE pod does not recognize the MCU anymore. Don't know what happened there.
But the big problem however is the cheap CH340 USB interface on this board. It does not report a serial number and this causes big headaches with Windows. Plug it into a new USB port and there's differen COM port number. Plug two of them in at the same time and you cannot easily tell which is which.
I mostly wanted a 3.3V Uno running at 16MHz so that part is fine. However, the CH340 is enough of a headache that I won't be buying any more of these.
The product works well and does what it should.
On Big Sur and Monterey, the drivers are not required. Moreover, it takes a bit of searching to find that you cannot execute Board Info from the IDE and you get an error which seems like the kernel drivers aren't installed. On Big Sur/Monterey, the kernel driver for the USB is not required.
Also, the board is recognized as an Uno. It took a bit of searching to find this.
The reason for selecting the RedBoard is simple: it provides a USB-micro connector unlike the ordinary UNO with it's bulky version. I learned the hard way, that the space of a device extends at least 1" on the sides on which there is a connector.
The device run out of the box and i had no problem to load software using the Arduino IDE 1.8.16. What gave me some hard time is to design a support piece on which I could mount the hardware. I had to measure the positions of the mounting holes with paper, pencil, and a ruler!. It's one thing to provide the board size and mounting hole locations in a EAGLE or DXF file but it's completely different thing to provide the same information as a technical drawing in a PDF file, which can be read and used without any costly 3rd party software. All this fancy design software like EAGLE or Autodesk programs are able to produce such a PDF file, so why is it missing? Make a guess!
An other information missing is that the board doesn't provide much meaningful data when using the 'Get Board Info' in the Arduino IDE. Just a few cryptic and therefore meaningless hex numbers doesn't cut it, I expect at least something informing me that the device is Arduino UNO compatible.
It's a good device but it has room for improvement.
Interfacing with all the Sparkfun Qwiic boards is painless. The available I/O and enhanced power supply make it easy to launch into a project.
Great board with enough functionality to do many cool, beginner projects with my son. Tutorials/materials online were super helpful to get set up initially and now we can start to branch out with its flexibility.